Prepare your home for an earthquake

Prepare your home for an earthquake to keep you, your items, and your home safe.

  • Place large and heavy objects on lower shelves
  • Fasten tall furniture to the walls
  • Store breakable items, such as glass jars and china, in low closed cabinets with latches
  • Hang heavy items, such as pictures and mirrors, away from beds, couches, or anywhere people sit
  • Anchor overhead lighting fixtures securely to the ceiling
  • Know the locations of electric fuse or circuit breaker box, water service shut-off, and natural gas main shut-off as you may need to turn them off after the earthquake
  • Purchase earthquake insurance

Prevent damage to your home’s structure

  • Consider hiring a professional engineer to evaluate your building, and be sure to ask about home repair and strengthening tips for exterior features, such as porches, front and back decks, sliding glass doors, canopies, carports, and garage doors
  • Check to see if your house is bolted to its foundation to minimize structural damage during an earthquake
  • Bolt down or reinforce your water heater and other gas appliances, using flexible connections. Your water heater may be a source of clean water after an earthquake, as long as it hasn’t been damaged. Strapping the water heater to the wall will keep it upright and keep pipes from rupturing during a quake. Replace metal piping with flexible connectors where possible


Plan for an emergency with your family

You and the other members of your family might not be together during a disaster or other emergency. It is important to have a plan that will help you communicate and find each other after the emergency.

You also need to make sure that every member of your family knows what to do if they are at home alone during an emergency.

Create a family emergency plan, and then review it with your family regularly – every six months, when the clocks change – to make sure that everyone understands it and remembers it.

What your emergency plan should include

When you create your family emergency plan, you should:

  • Identify objects in your home that could be dangerous during an emergency
  • Plan evacuation routes from every room in your home
  • Pick two meeting places where you and your family can get back together if you get separated – one close to your home, and one a little further away
  • Ask an out-of-province relative or friend to be your family contact person
  • Prepare your emergency kits
  • Teach family members how to turn off utilities, use a fire extinguisher, and call 9-1-1
  • Make arrangements for seniors and family members with special needs
  • Save digital copies of important documents – such as birth certificates and financial records – on a memory stick, or make photocopies of them